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STRATEGIC ROLE FOR MUSEUMS, LIBRARIES & ARCHIVES BODY

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The government's plans to set up a new Museums, Libraries and ...
The government's plans to set up a new Museums, Libraries and

Archives Council (MLAC) offer a 'major opportunity to promote the

development of the sector', according to a report, published yesterday.

The report - from the MLAC Design Group, set up by the culture

department earlier this year - includes recommendations that the new

body, which will come into operation from April next year, should:

- have a key strategic role as a champion and standard-setter for its

sector and the prime source of advice to government,

- seek to be inclusive, establishing links with other national bodies

such as the Heritage Lottery Fund and the New Opportunities Fund in

policy formulation,

- be a funding body and have the opportunity to operate challenge

funding initiatives across the sector.

- have UK-wide responsibilities with an international role

representing the sector abroad, and ensuring that full advantage is

taken of EU and other sources of funding.

Culture secretary Chris Smith said:

'Museums, libraries and archives together make up a national treasure

house, providing opportunities for enjoyment and learning for all.

This report is a milestone in the process of establishing the MLAC,

which will be a strong strategic body working on behalf of museums,

libraries and archives and all their users. The findings of the MLAC

Design Group confirm the validity of this concept. I agree with the

general thrust of the group's proposals and my department will be

working towards their realisation by April 2000.

'Detailed decisions about the role and priorities of MLAC will need

to await the appointment of a chair and other board members later

this year. We will ensure that these appointments are made as soon as

possible. There are a number of issues arising from the report

requiring discussion with the libraries, museums and archives

communities over the coming months. To start this process I have

written to the National Museum Directors' Conference to invite them

to propose ways in which the national museums and galleries, and the

British Library, can assist MLAC in its work. In the meantime my

Department would be happy to receive any views from interested

parties about the MLAC Design Group's report as we take this process

forward.'

Notes

The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLAC) will receive

£19.5m from the culture department in 2000-01. It will

strive to ensure that museums, libraries and archives are known to

and widely used by all as key resources for creativity, lifelong

learning, economic development and enjoyment. It will be the main

source of advice to the secretary of state for culture, media and

sport on strategic policy within the museums, libraries and

archives sector.

Any enquiries about the report, or representations about the

issues raised within it, should be directed to

Roger Stratton-Smith of DCMS Libraries, Information & Archives

Division, room G06, 2-4 Cockspur Street, London SW1Y 5DH

(Tel: 0171 211 6175;

e-mail: roger.stratton-smith@culture.gov.uk)

An advertisement is to be placed in the national press inviting applications for the post of chair of the MLAC. This is a new post within a body created following the comprehensive spending review, which replaces the Museums and Galleries Commission and the Library and Information Commission. The appointment - which is renumerated - will be for a period of three years.

The chair's role will be to guide the establishment of the new body, and to turn it into the single source of strategic advice to government on issues relating to the museums, libraries and archives sector.

Culture secretary Chris Smith said: 'Museums, libraries and archives together provide an astonishingly rich resource, able to provide enjoyment and education for the communities they serve. The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council will be a powerful, pivotal body at the point where government and the museums, galleries, libraries and archives communities meet. It will provide leadership, promote high standards and act as a champion for all the areas of activity involved.

'I am keen that the process of selecting a chair for this important new body is as open and inclusive as possible. It is essential that whoever is appointed commands the respect of museums, libraries and archive communities, and drives the body forward with energy and insight.'

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